BRIEF HISTORY OF THE 200th AND 515th COAST ARTILLERY
I received the following story from the
Museum & Library, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505.
The 200th Coast Artillery, better known as "The Regiment"
was inducted into federal service on 6 January 1941,
supposedly for one year of active duty training. Unit
designations and home stations at the time of induction
Regimental Headquarters Deming
Headquarters Battery Deming
Regimental Band Albuquerque
Medical Detachment Albuquerque
HQ & HQ Battery, 1st BN Albuquerque
Battery A Albuquerque
Battery B Albuquerque
Battery C Santa Fe
Battery D Gallup
HQ & HQ Battery, 2nd BN Clovis
Battery E Clovis
Battery F Carlsbad
Battery G Silver City
Battery H Taos
For eight months, the Regiment underwent hard and rigorous
training at Fort Bliss, Texas. Not only did these former
"horse soldiers" have to learn new skills and techniques,
but they had to absorb into their units hundreds of
untrained Selective Service induetees. At one time, the
Regiment numbered over 2300, more than 400 above war
On 17 August 1941, the Regiment was notified that it had
been selected for an overseas assignment of great importance
and that the choice had been made because of the highly
satisfactory state of training which had been attained. The
reward for all the hard work performed in Federal Service
was to have the 200th named officially as the best Anti-
Aircraft Regiment, (Regular or otherwise), then available to
the United States Armed Forces for use in an area of
critical military importance.
By 26 September 1941, the entire Regiment reached the
Philippines and then immediately moved to Fort Stotsenberg,
some 75 miles north of Manila. On 23 November, all Batteries
were placed in combat positions for the protection of Fort
Stotsenberg. The training program was to provide the
greatest possible amount of experience under simulated war
During the next ten weeks of settling down, the 200th was
able to unpack its equipment, get set in position, and had
even planned for some target practice. However, no target
ammunition could be obtained. As a consequence, the first
shots fired by the 200th were aimed at enemy aircraft. They
fought the war without ever having had any firing practice.
At 1235 hours, 8 December, Manila time, Japanese bombers,
flying at 23,000 feet and accompanied by strafing planes,
made their appearance, and the war was on. The 200th could
not, with powder train fuses, effective only to about 20,000
feet, do much damage to the high altitude bombers. The men
dished out what ever they could end stood up well under
these unfavorable end unequal conditions. When the smoke
from the muzzles cleared away, five enemy planes had been
shot down and two men of the outfit had lost their lives.
Two weeks after the war began, the Japanese started to make
landings on Luzon, and their air effort over Clark Field and
Manila area was intensified. Soon the main Japanese landing
was made, and a decision was reached to withdraw the forces
into Bataan. The parent 200th assumed the mission of
covering the retreat of the Northern Luzon Force into
Bataan, while the newly formed 515th assumed a similar
mission for the South Luzon Force.
Fire from the Regiment defense held back Japanese air
attempts to destroy the bridges. As a result, the North and
South Luzon Forces, found a clear passage into Bataan. Thus
the 200th end the 515th completed their tasks of bringing the
divisions safely to the peninsula.
The next three months saw the war situation deteriorate from
bad to worse. While the enemy air actions were sporadic in
nature, the menace of malaria and dysentery was everywhere.
Food became scarce, and the combination of hunger and fever
reduced the units on Bataan to a state of apathy.
On 3 April 1942, the Japanese received sufficient
reinforcements with which to begin their drive down the
peninsula. An intense concentration of Japanese air and
artillery fire was placed on the front end rear areas. After
two days and nights of continuous shelling, the Japanese
infantry and tank attacks commenced. On 7 April, the
combined enemy effort broke through allied lines.
The battle for Bataan was ended on 9 April, the fighting was
over. The men who survived the ordeal could feel justly
proud of their accomplishments. Total enemy aircraft shot
down by the 200th end 515th was 86 confirmed. For four months
they had held off the Japanese, only to be overwhelmed
finally by disease and starvation. The story of the
Regiment and the other defenders reached its tragic climax
with the horrors end atrocities of the 65 mile "Death March"
from Mariveles to San Fernando. This infamous march was
followed by forty months in Prisoner of War Camps.
Of the eighteen hundred men in the Regiment, less then nine
hundred made it back home and within one year a third of
them died from various complications.
In December of 1945, General Wainwright, in paying tribute
to the Regiment, said:
"On December 8, 1941, when the Japanese unexpectedly
attacked the Philippine Island, the first point bombed was
Ft. Stotsenberg. The 200th Coast Artillery, assigned to
defend the Fort, was the first unit, under The General of
the Army Douglas MacArthur, to go into action end fire at
the enemy, the first one to go into action defending our
flag in the Pacific. First to fire, end last to lay down
their arms! A fitting epitaph for a valiant Brigade which
fought standing firmly in its appointed place and facing
forward to the enemy."
The 200th and 515th - The New Mexico Brigade - brought home
four Presidential Unit Citations and the Philippine
Presidential Citation. They earned their place in American
Other interesting information:
"General of the Army Douglas MacArthur wrote about the
Battles for Bataan and Corregidor, "had it not held out,
Australia would have fallen with incalculable results."
33,021 Americans captured, 1,000 died on the march.
45,000+Filipinos captured, 9,000 died on the march.
11,526 Americans died in Prisoner of War Camps or Hell
Six Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, four Americans
and two Filipinos.
* 96,614 American POWs captured by the Germans only 1,121
died in captivity.